Buckeyes' ultimate goal is still on the table

Buckeyes' ultimate goal is still on the table

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Coming down the stretch, No. 6 Ohio State's biggest goal - going 12-0 - is still very much within reach.

Some of the Buckeyes don't want to talk about it for fear of jinxing it. Others freely acknowledge that there'd be nothing better than running the table and showing up all of the naysayers after last year's losing season and a year of NCAA violations, suspensions, sanctions and humiliation.

Even coach Urban Meyer - who jokingly chided a reporter for mentioning that Ohio State's center hasn't made a bad snap all year - mentions 12-0 to his team.

``We know how big it is and it's rare that you see a team go undefeated,'' wide receiver Corey Brown said. ``We know that, because (Meyer) talks about it all the time, obviously. This group is hungry enough and everybody wants to do it because we're all in, all the time.

``There's no doubt in my mind that we'll do it.''

The Buckeyes are banned from going to a bowl game, so it's a longshot that they could impress enough Associated Press media voters to climb all the way to No. 1 without playing after the regular-season finale on Nov. 24 against No. 23 Michigan.

But 12-0? All that requires is coming off a bye week and winning at Wisconsin on Saturday before knocking off the rival Wolverines a week later.

``We need to be 12-0,'' fullback-turned-linebacker Zach Boren said. ``It's one game at a time. We're not thinking about injuries, polls (or the fact that) we have nothing after the Team Up North game. We've got the two biggest games of the season coming up.''

Meyer was asked on Monday if, knowing that his team can't play in a bowl, he has to fight the urge to think the Buckeyes might miss out on all the national championship talk because there will be no postseason games.

``You know, I could lie to you and say that I don't. Every once in a while (I think about it), but not as much as I thought,'' he said. ``I'll hear it and read it once in a while, and I have good friends in the profession that will make a comment, and I'll think about it for a second. But then I go back to knowing exactly who we were, and you go back to how we've won and who we are right now. We're pretty fortunate where we are. Let's find a way to get (win) No. 11.''

How rare is an unblemished season with no losses or ties? Consider that Ohio State trumpets that it has won seven national championships - yet has only gone unbeaten five times in 122 previous seasons of football.

The only perfect seasons have come in 1916, 1944, 1954, 1968 and 2002. In Buckeyes lore, each has its own, distinct flavor, figurehead or fact.

The '16 team that went 7-0-0 was led by Ohio State's first great player, halfback Charles ``Chic'' Harley. Carroll Widdoes was a rookie coach (Paul Brown had left abruptly after the '43 season) and Les Horvath became the first of the school's seven Heisman Trophy winners while going 9-0-0 in '44.

Fans burned first-year coach Woody Hayes in effigy in 1951, but three years later he led the Buckeyes to a 10-0-0 record. Left halfback Howard ``Hopalong'' Cassady, who would win the Heisman in 1955, was the star.

Hayes' ``Super Sophs'' - Jack Tatum, Rex Kern, John Brockington, Leophus Hayden, Larry Zelina, Tim Anderson, Jan White, Jim Stillwagon and others - went 9-0-0 and then beat O.J. Simpson and Southern California 27-16 in the 1969 Rose Bowl.

And then there was Ohio State's most recent national championship team in 2002, which won seven games by seven points or fewer. Jim Tressel's team beat No. 1 Miami 31-24 in double-overtime in the Fiesta Bowl in the national championship game.

This year's team has won ugly (holding off Central Florida, California, UAB and Michigan State), won big (63-38 against No. 16 Nebraska) and won improbable (trailing 22-14 with under a minute left without starting quarterback Braxton Miller, yet beating Purdue, 29-22 in overtime).

Defensive end John Simon urges caution on all the 12-0 talk.

``We're just not getting ahead of ourselves. We know every day is going to count if we want to achieve our goals,'' he said. ``There's definitely light at the end of the tunnel. You can see it. But these are going to be two of our toughest games of the year. So we're going to have to make sure we're prepared for each one of them and doing whatever we can to leave nothing to chance.''

Meyer wants to take it a step at a time, too.

``I tried years ago not to control what we can't control,'' he said. ``We've got to have a really good Tuesday practice. We can control that. We can't control anything else.''

There's no need for the coaching staff to even bring up what winning these last two games would mean.

``We realize we have a legitimate chance to go undefeated,'' Brown said. ``I don't think (Meyer) has to emphasize the rankings and what we have to do. He knows that we know what we have to do now.''

Boren, a senior, has seen a lot of ups and downs in his four years on campus. Just like the five unbeaten teams, he knows that a perfect record would put the Buckeyes - his Buckeyes - in the record books, not to mention the lasting memory of Ohio State fans.

``It'd mean a lot,'' he said. ``It would mean a lot to this team, just because of how much we have been through and how hard we've worked and how much time we've put in. We really need to finish.

``Going 12-0, it'd be nice.''


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Gonzaga beats DeMatha on Hail Mary in bonkers WCAC championship game


Gonzaga beats DeMatha on Hail Mary in bonkers WCAC championship game

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) has a long history of football excellence, and the 2018 championship game was no exception. 

No. 2 Gonzaga College High School defeated No. 1 DeMatha Catholic High School, 46-43, in the title game at Catholic University of America on Sunday night thanks to three lead changes in the final 60 seconds and a game-winning Hail Mary. 

After allowing  DeMatha to race out to a 20-point lead, the Purple Eagles scored in the second quarter on a one-yard rushing touchdown. Dean Engram, son of Baltimore Ravens’ WR coach Bobby Engram, caught a 35-yard pass to score again for Gonzaga, closing the deficit to just six at 20-14. DeMatha rushed in another touchdown and intercepted Gonzaga’s next pass before entering the half at 26-14.

Both powerhouses scored a touchdown in the third, leaving the teams to fight until the very end of the fourth quarter in order determine the 2018 championship. That's when things got extra weird.

With 39 seconds left, Gonzaga's Sam Sweeney caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Williams to give the Eagles a 40-36 lead. 

But on the ensuing kickoff DeMatha senior Dominic Logan-Nealy returned the kick to the end zone, giving DeMatha a 43-40 lead with just 15 seconds left.

Gonzaga would get another crack at the title, and they did not let it go to waste. Williams hurled a desperation pass to the end zone with no time remaining. Eagles' receiver John Marshall got his hands on the pass and snagged the game-winning touchdown catch to give Gonzaga the stunning 46-43 win. 

The winners immediately rushed to celebrate with their student section, but the protective fencing separating the two was ultimately torn down.

The WCAC champions end the year 9-3. Head Coach Randy Trivers emotionally addressed his troops after their battle, reminding them that Gonzaga won their first title on Catholic University of America’s field:

DeMatha ended its season 8-3.

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NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

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NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

When the sun came up Sunday morning, the Redskins held a two-game lead in the NFC East and looked to have a clear route to a division title. 

By the time the sun went down, a lot changed. 

Washington lost at home in a crazy game to Houston, but big picture, the more important outcome was the broken leg for Alex Smith. The Redskins now turn to backup Colt McCoy, and while the Burgundy and Gold remain in first place, their lead shrunk.

  1. Washington Redskins (6-4, 2-0) - Talk about a roller coaster game. The Redskins got down early to the Texans, trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, but fought all the way back. In the process, the team lost Smith for the season, but McCoy played well when he entered the game. A veteran in Jay Gruden's system, McCoy should be able to step in and run the offense without any hesitation. Will that be enough? What isn't being talked about in Washington: a suddenly slumping run defense. A huge game looms Thursday against Ezekiel Elliott and a surging Cowboys squad. Up next: Nov. 22 @ Dallas, 4 p.m.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (5-5, 2-1) - It seemed like the Cowboys season was over a few weeks ago after a humbling home loss on Monday Night Football to the Titans. Two weeks later, the script has flipped. Dallas won their second straight game on Sunday, holding off a late Atlanta rally and winning the game on a last-second field goal. Elliott went for 201 total yards from scrimmage and the Cowboys young defense continued to make impressive plays. Jerry Jones' team struggles on the road, but at home, the Cowboys are 3-1 this season. Up next: Nov. 22 vs Washington, 4 p.m.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6, 1-1) - Fans waiting for the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles to get it together might want to stop waiting. Philly got boat raced in New Orleans on Sunday, losing 48-7 and dropping to two games below .500. Carson Wentz threw three INTs in New Orleans and really, while the QB was bad in the Superdome, it's hard to pin the Eagles' woes on any one thing. The offense hasn't been very good, and the defense hasn't either. Sitting just two games back of the 'Skins and one behind Dallas, don't count the Eagles out yet. But don't really count them in either. Up next: Nov. 25th vs New York Giants, 1 p.m.
  4. New York Giants (3-7, 0-3) - Don't look now but the Giants might be the hottest team in the division. Or at least not the coldest team in the division. The Giants won their second game in a row on Sunday, a nail-biting 38-35 victory over Tampa. New York got out to a big lead before the Bucs crept back in it, but powered by four combined TDs between Saquon Barkley and Eli Manning, the Giants did enough. Simple arithmetic suggests the Giants are closer to a Top 5 draft pick than a playoff run, but hey, they haven't been eliminated yet. Crazy things happen in this league. Up next: Nov. 25th @ Philadelphia, 1 p.m.